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|Society & You - Social Critic|
|Wednesday, 25 July 2012 12:35|
On July 23, 2012, Oswaldo Paya, Cuba's democracy advocate, died in a car crash in the eastern city of Bayamo.
Oswaldo Paya was famed leader of the Varela Project and Sakharov prize-winning human rights and democracy of the European Parliament, and was internationally recognized as one of the most pragmatic and enlightened defenders of Cuba, fighter for freedom of speech, freedom of association and other fundamental rights on the island. His colleague Harold Cepero also died in the accident.
Oswaldo Paya at home. Screenshot of a video of Tracey Eaton, taken with permission from the photographer.
Among the survivors are Angel and Jens Carromero Aron Modig, European policy of Spain and Sweden, who supported the efforts of Paya. Both are still hospitalized and in stable condition, reportedly. So far, there has appeared no account of the accident [in] any of the survivors in the conventional media or citizen media.
The public learned of the death of the lawyer through reports of the Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez , who has close relationship with the family of Paya. Sanchez tweeted to his followers that he received a call of Ophelia, the Paya wife, informing him of the accident:
Hours later, Sanchez tweeted to his over 270,000 followers who had died Paya:
In Cuba, Granma, the main newspaper, described the accident in a short article and Paya named as one of the victims, but made no reference to his political work.
Respected by many, but criticized by pro-government and anti-Castro groups hardliners alike, Paya founded the Christian Liberation Movement in Cuba, a non-denominational political organization that works to promote human rights and civil liberties in Cuba. A decade later, in 1998, led the Varela Project , which to date remains one of the more pragmatic, modest attempts of a group of Cuban civil society to advocate for change within the political system of Cuba. Paya and other project members collected 11,000 signatures on a petition calling for a referendum on the Constitution. The referendum, which was not accepted by the Cuban government would have enshrined the rights to free speech, free association, full turnout and fundamental freedoms for all Cubans.
Paya also became known for his commitment to nonviolent action, his moderate approach to defense and refusal to accept financial support from foreign governments, especially the United States. In an interview in 2011 with the journalist Tracey Eaton commented on these beliefs:
Tracey Eaton interview Oswaldo Paya, of cubamoneyproject.org:
Paya's death became the subject of global moment on Twitter shortly after Sanchez confirmed his death. Marta López García [ @ aircag ] tweeted:
Shortly after the reports emerged, Rosa Maria, the daughter of Paya, told foreign media [in] that he feared the shock would not have been an accident. Although state media reported that the driver lost control of the vehicle and the car hit a tree, other reports have claimed that the car crashed into another vehicle, possibly a truck.
Many voices on Twitter commented on this allegation:
@ ZapataVive tweeted:
The blogger and photographer Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo [ @ OLPL ] tweeted:
Pardo Lazo live tweeted the afternoon funeral services July 23 and included a short video in which the audience is applauding Paya. Of the details of the accident will be reported in Global Voices when known. For now, those who admired Paya continue to express their sorrow at his death, and admiration for their work.
Arturo Lopez Levy, a native of Cuba and a doctoral candidate in philosophy at the University of Denver, wrote a detailed essay on the policy and pragmatism of Paya. Lopez Levy commented on the unique position of leading moderate among the defenders of democracy in Cuba:
The blogger Dimas Castellanos wrote:
Written by Ellery Biddle Roberts · Translated by Gabriela Garcia Calderon Orbe · View original post [en] · Comments (1)